Dr. Colin H. Kahl

  • Middle East Security

Dr. Colin H. Kahl is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Middle East Security Program at CNAS and an associate professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

From February 2009 through December 2011, Dr. Kahl served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East. In that capacity, he developed and implemented the U.S. Defense Department’s strategy and policy toward Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. During his tenure, he played a lead role in: designing and overseeing the responsible drawdown and transition strategy in Iraq; shaping the Pentagon’s efforts to counter Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions and destabilizing activities; promoting unprecedented defense cooperation with Israel; building a Regional Security Architecture in the Gulf; and crafting the Department’s response to the Arab Awakening. In June 2011, Dr. Kahl was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service by Secretary Robert Gates.

Dr. Kahl has published widely on U.S. defense policy in the Middle East, including articles in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, International Security, The Los Angeles Times, Middle East Policy, The National Interest and The New York Times.  He has also published numerous works on the sources of political instability and violent conflict in developing countries, including States, Scarcity, and Civil Strife in the Developing World (Princeton University Press, 2006).

From 2000-2005 and 2007 Dr. Kahl was a professor of international relations in the political science department at the University of Minnesota. In 2005-2006 he was a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow working on stability operations and counterinsurgency at the Department of Defense. In 1997-1998 he was a National Security Fellow at Harvard University's Olin Institute for Strategic Studies. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University in 2000 and his BA in political science from the University of Michigan in 1993.